China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multifaceted plan to better integrate the economies of Asia, Europe and parts of Africa in a colossal contiguous market consisting of upwards of 65+ countries and an estimated 30 percent of the world's economic output.
A framework of new transportation infrastructure is being built across the region that will not only act as physical connectors that pull multitudes of countries together, but also as stimulants for local economic activity.
Currently, one maritime and three overland transport corridors are in operation, with many more under construction. The northern, middle and southern rail corridors between China and Europe are all running. The Maritime Silk Road — a network of new and enhanced seaports and adjoining industrial zones extending from the eastern sea ports of China and Hong Kong through Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and ending in Venice, Italy — has been developing rapidly.
"The New Silk Road brings new and more efficient transport links, which makes it easier for companies in many parts of the world to become involved in, and benefit from, the Chinese economy," said Frans-Paul van der Putten, senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute think tank.
"This has created a demand for logistical service providers and ICT companies that support trading between large numbers of relatively small actors over large distances that previously were unable to interact directly with each other."